SALUTED by a guard of honour, Sergeant Harley Willox has walked away from a four-decade career with the police force and into retirement with his head held high.

The police officer officially ended his duty with a ceremony at the Grafton Police Station at 3pm yesterday, surrounded by colleagues and friends in a nod to his commitment and contribution to the Clarence Valley community.

Superintendent Mark Holahan said it was a poignant end to an influential and highly respected career, which had extended over 40 years and 185 days.

Sgt Willox's influence was proven by the number of people that turned up to his send-off at Maclean on Wednesday night.

More than 150 well-wishers attended the function, some of whom the sergeant hadn't seen in 20-30 years.

One of those people was the only other officer from his 1974 graduation class still serving in the police force.

"There's only one left now," Sgt Willox told The Daily Examiner yesterday.

"It was definitely a trip down memory lane and an occasion to renew friendships."

Sgt Willox is not only highly respected as a police officer but a stalwart of the Maclean community, where he will continue to live into his retirement.

"I think the community of Maclean is probably one of the greatest I've lived in," he said.

"People are responsive and friendly and made us welcome since the start."

Sgt Willox said he had mixed feelings about his transition into retirement but was looking forward to the future with trepidation.

"I'm just going to relax for a little while and see what time brings," he said.

"It's a big change; I've been doing this for 40 years.

"But I have a great family and son and wife, who have helped me through all the ups and downs in the police force and will continue to do so in later life."

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